Should farmers who raise thoroughbred horses receive the same regulatory exemptions as those who grow vegetables? How about farmers who grow tobacco, flowers, or corn for ethanol, or who raise animals for fur coats? These are the questions that emerged in the forefront of my mind as I waded through the hundreds of pages of data contained in the recently released 2017 Census of Agriculture. The census is a treasure trove of information that paints a picture of the current state of farms, farmers, and farming in the United States—and, importantly, it reminded me that agriculture is not limited to food production. Read More >
Successes in food policy work can make a big difference, from empowering urban farmers to putting food recovery plans into action. But policy work can lack glitz. And when the successes happen, they’re often a long time in materializing.
So, it helps to have peers in other cities and counties with whom to share knowledge gleaned from both the successes and the failures. But it’s not always easy to develop connections with those peers. Read More >
In 1933, President Roosevelt’s New Deal included the creation of the first-ever Farm Bill, a response to the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, the epic drought disaster that was devastating the agriculture sector in the United States. Today, the goals and impact of the Farm Bill couldn’t be any further from what was intended almost 90 years ago. Read More >
For many Maryland residents who struggle to access healthy, affordable food, transportation is the missing link. The Maryland Legislature is addressing the challenge through a bill introduced this legislative session.
The Complete Streets – Access to Healthy Food bill, which aims to guide the Department of Transportation toward explicitly considering healthy food access, would prioritize transit options for accessing healthy food markets without a personal vehicle, and it defines “food desert,” as well. It has been heard in both chambers of the Maryland legislature. If passed and signed into law, this legislation would take effect on June 1, 2019. Read More >
This post is the fourth in a series—Connecting Agriculture Policy to Your Health—by CLF-Lerner Fellow Lacey Gaechter.
With debates over the 2018 Farm Bill now in our rearview mirror, this is the time for food citizens to start advocating for our next Farm Bill, and a project of the Center for A Livable Future (CLF) offers insight into what the American people want to see in the 2023 version.
So how do we want our food policies to reflect our food priorities? According to CLF’s 2018 National Farm Bill Poll of 1,005 registered US voters, rolled out as part of the Food Citizen Project, only one in five of us are familiar with the Farm Bill. In fact, nearly half of us have never heard of the bill, despite the fact that it’s arguably the piece of legislation that affects our food system more than any other. Read More >
My introduction to the Delmarva Peninsula occurred during a lecture in which Dr. Meghan Davis presented some incredible statistics about the region. Dr. Davis described Delmarva as having one of the highest densities of poultry production in the world. Sadly, this concentration of poultry production is generating large amounts of agricultural runoff (manure, nitrogen, etc.) that pollutes the Chesapeake Bay.1 The runoff creates marine dead zones (areas unable to sustain life due to dissolved oxygen depletion2) and alters the microbial compositions and ecosystem functions within the bay.1,3 I subsequently learned that many Delmarva farmers are unhappy with the predominant model of poultry production in the region and its detrimental effects. What inhibits these farmers from adopting alternative production models? Read More >
In college, I rocked some Girls Love Dirt mountain biking socks, and the environmental club I founded was called Dirt First, a Simpsons reference for those of you who are fans. Let there be no mistake: this woman still loves dirt, but for growing food, dirt is not our best option. For that, we really want soil. Read More >
Last year the US District Court of Appeals took a huge step forward to protect public health from pollutants released by industrial-scale livestock facilities. This March, however, Congress negated the Court’s ruling when it passed the FARM Act. It was easy to miss this undermining of the 2017 decision since Congress rolled the FARM Act into the 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill as a rider.
What is the FARM Act?
The federal Fair Agriculture Reporting Method (FARM) Act is a formal, legislatively guaranteed exemption for industrial-scale livestock producers to the laws requiring other industries to report releases of hazardous materials. Read More >
Call it what you will: a crossroads, a turning point, a tipping point. Iowans might simply call it progress, or rather, the prospect of progress. After more than 20 years of pushing back against the industrial-scale hog-raising operations in their communities, grassroots organizations might be making the behemoth budge.
Until recently, the corporate hog industry in Iowa has been impenetrable. Twenty-three years ago, in 1995, the state passed legislation that allows confined animal feeding operations, also called CAFOs or “confinements,” to exist. There was very little public outcry, and hundreds of confinements popped up, mostly in northern Iowa. Read More >
For years, residents of the Eastern Shore of Maryland have been asking their local legislators and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to help them with a local problem. They live in communities that are home to industrial-scale poultry operations, where hundreds of thousands of birds are raised in chicken houses next to residential neighborhoods, and they feel that their health is suffering as a result. The stench from the chicken houses is bad enough, they say, but they must also contend with health problems such as asthma and persistent sinus infections, runny noses and headaches that they believe are a result of those poultry operations. Are their health problems caused by the ammonia and other pollutants blown from chicken houses through exhaust fans? There aren’t enough data to answer that question. Read More >